US-ASEAN summit: 'Commercial diplomacy at work'

By Catherine Cheney 17 February 2016

In addition to leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, three American CEOs joined United States President Barack Obama at the U.S.-ASEAN summit in Palm Springs, California. via YouTube

Earlier this week leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered at a summit with the United States government in Palm Springs, California, to discuss a variety of political and economic issues.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the other government officials were also joined by a trio of CEOs to talk about economic growth.

“Our business leaders really provided an enormous color and specificity to the ASEAN leaders about how they could achieve their objectives to expand their entrepreneurial culture,” Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, said. “And that is really commercial diplomacy at work.”

The digital economy provides an opportunity for major American companies to work with small and medium enterprises in ASEAN nations and other developing economies, said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

And technology can be leveraged to create new SMEs and help governments deliver citizen services like healthcare and education, said Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.

But in order to foster “a more diversified economy,” world class technology must be accessible to SMEs so they can create digital services and products, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Devex.

While the summit was organized to convene government leaders, it also provided a platform to discuss plans to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable and inclusive development in the region.

To learn more, and hear about a new initiative President Obama announced, watch the video above.

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About the author

Catherine cheney devex
Catherine Cheneycatherinecheney

Catherine Cheney covers the West Coast global development community for Devex. Since graduating from Yale University, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science, Catherine has worked as a reporter and editor for a range of publications including World Politics Review, POLITICO, and NationSwell, a media company and membership network she helped to build. She is also an ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network and the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute.

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